By Donna Husted Levy

In 1773, a young Swede named John Lungren began working at a paper mill on the east bank of the Schuylkill River, just across from the Garrett family homestead. Young Sarah Garrett had extended family on that side of the river, too. So, it’s likely the nearness of John Lungren to the Garrett family likely led to his introduction to 23-year-old Sarah.

Whatever brought them together, John and Sarah were married on April 30, 1777, five months before the British took occupation of Philadelphia. They fled Philadelphia to Concord, Delaware County, where John began work as a papermaker for the Wilcox Mill. On May 10, 1778, Sarah gave birth to their first born, William.

After a number of interfamily land transactions, the home where Sarah spent her childhood came into her father’s possession. First acquired by Sarah’s second great grandfather, Sven Lom, the land ultimately passed to her father at the death of Sven’s father, Garrett Garretson. When the land was resurveyed, an additional hundred acres was added to the 300-acre- property. Even though William Penn arrived after the deed had been granted, he agreed it was valid and affirmed it. In 1856, the City of Philadelphia began to buy up properties along the Schuylkill, requiring all landowners to sell the land to form Fairmount Park for an agreed upon price and an annual stipend for a given number of years.

Because hundreds of lilac bushes surrounded the home, the Garrett homestead was known as “The Lilacs.” Built in the Swedish style in 1711, the home had a family living area on the second floor, deep window sills and tall, east-facing windows that overlooked the Schuylkill. Winding, wide-plank stairs led to an attic just beneath the roof, high enough for five small children to stand upright and sleep comfortably. They were also wide enough for the siblings to race one another up the steps. 

A relative signed the Declaration of Independence

Sarah’s family played important roles in the U.S. fight for independence. Her mother’s first cousin, John Morton, signed the Declaration of Independence on his deathbed. Her brother, Morton Garrett, Jr., was a Captain, then a Major of the Philadelphia City Militia during the Revolutionary War. While recruiting soldiers to enlist in the militia, he held secret meetings in a  silo on the family property.

As with most women of the colonial era, Sarah’s life centered around domestic duties. While her husband mastered his papermaking craft, bought and sold land, and built a prosperous paper mill and stone home known as the “Lungren Mansion,” Sarah did her part. She gave birth to a total of six children, managed a household, bought food, made meals, raised the children, furnished and decorated the home and entertained John Lungren’s business associates. 

Sarah’s husband John died on March 3, 1816. Sarah died at age 68, a little more than two years after her husband. In her will she left generous bequests of money and personal items to her children and grandchildren. When Sarah signed her will, she signed with her mark.

Conservation Assessment

to the Memory of
wife of John Lungren, Sr.

who departed this life
May 1st 1818
aged 68 years 5 months & 6 days.

Our friend and Mother low is dead
The cold and lifelss Clay
Has made in dust her silent bed
And their it must remain
But is She dead No, No.; She lives,
Her nobler spirit flies
To Heaven above and there receives
The long expected prize

Also our sister
Susan L. Black
who departed this life
July 22th 1839
aged 27 years 7 months & 16 days

Also our nephew
Abner Lewis Black
who departed this life
December 21st 1847
aged 14 years 7 months & 17 days
He sleeps in Jesus

Type of Marker: Headstone
Material: Marble
Issues: Biogrowth, loss, sugaring
Elements Missing or Compromised: missing top portion of marker
Recommended Treatment: Document

Historic Integrity: Intact
Structural Integrity: Poor
Material Integrity: Poor
Legible Inscription: No inscription

Marker Details
Inventory Number: 32
Plot Number: 123
Historic Number: 478
Ledger Book Number: 69
Cemetery Section: 3
Marker Height/Length (in): 10
Marker Width (in): 21
Marker Thickness/Depth (in): 1